In this equation, E stands for the total energy of the light source, v is the frequency of the light, and h was a mathematical constant that came to be known as "Planck's constant." If Planck was right, then energy could only be emitted in certain units–multiples of hv. Planck called these units "quanta," Latin for "how much." This equation challenged everything that had been previously thought about energy. But no one, not even Planck, realized this at the time.

Planck's equation worked, and by 1908, everyone in the field had accepted it, but even the best physicists of the time failed to see its implications. Like Planck, they considered the quantum assumption to be nothing more than a convenience, a mathematical abstraction with no consequences for the real world.

Despite this oversight, Planck's work was impressive enough
to draw the attention and admiration of his peers. The new equation would,
in itself, have been enough to make Planck's career. Planck's theory
yielded two new universal constants that related mechanical measures
of energy to temperature measures: *h* and *K*.
Planck called *K* "Boltzmann's constant", a gesture
of appreciation to Ludwig Boltzmann, whose theories had led Planck
to his own grand solution. In 1900, the value of h meant little
to physicists, but *K* meant a great deal.

Knowing that such a constant as *K* existed,
physicists had composed the equation *LKT* = pressure
of a standard unit of gas. In this equation, *L* stands
for the number of molecules in a standard unit of gas and *T* stands
for the absolute temperature of the gas. They knew that the number
of molecules and the temperature of a gas were directly related
to the pressure it exerted, but they didn't know how, since the
values of both *L* and *K* were a
mystery.

Thanks to Planck, physicists could finally derive a value
for *L*. And knowing *L* eventually
led to even more discoveries, including a theoretical confirmation
of the charge of a single electron. This was one of the earliest
connections physicists were able to make between electrodynamics
and atomic theory, and bridging the gap between these two fields
had been one of Planck's highest goals.

He wasn't the only one with this goal. As the impact of
Planck's work grew and grew, his peers sat up and took notice.
In 1908, Planck was nominated for the Nobel Prize in physics for
the discovery of his two constants and the *E = hv*
formula itself. But Planck's nomination was voted down, not because
his work wasn't significant enough, but because someone had finally
realized it had even more significant implications. It was pointed
out to the Nobel committee that Planck's equation implied that
energy did not come in a continuum, and, horrified by the thought,
the committee declined to award Planck the prize. Instead, the
1908 Nobel Prize went to Gabriel Lippman, for his work in the new
field of color photography.